Erectile dysfunction can affect self-confidence and create tension in a relationship. Because of the nature of the condition, it can be a difficult issue for men to talk about, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. In fact, approximately 50 percent of men are affected in their lifetime and one in four men with erectile dysfunction are under the age of 40.
In order to treat erectile dysfunction, it is vital that you understand what causes the condition.
Understanding the Erectile Process
For a healthy erection, several processes must be completed. Erectile dysfunction will occur if there is an interruption in any of the following events:
- The process begins in the brain. The brain will respond to a touch, smell, auditory trigger or visual stimuli that is sexual in nature. This information will travel to the base of the spine.
- Once the nerves in the spine receive the message, it will regulate blood flow to the penis.
- Sexual stimulation will cause the release of chemicals from the nerve endings in the penis that will relax certain muscles around the penis, resulting in increased blood flow to the area.
Interruption of this process can be the result of mental and/or physical causes.
A common assumption among men is that erectile dysfunction is purely a physical issue, but, the brain plays a vital role. Men who are experiencing erectile dysfunction as a result of psychological factors often experience:
- Depression and anxiety.
- Severe stress with work, relationships or finances.
- Relationship issues caused by poor communication or other concerns.
Physical barriers to a healthy erection are the most common cause of this issue. When the cause is purely physical, the drive is there, but the body is unable to perform key erectile functions. Typically, men experiencing physical dysfunction have.
Common Health Issues
General health problems are by far the most common factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction. Often, sexual health can be improved by treating the following:
- Heart-related issues such as clogged blood vessels, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
Nervous System Diseases and Disorders
Since the brain plays such a vital role, disruptions in the sending and receiving of neurological messages can affect sexual health. Diseases that could contribute to erectile dysfunction include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Hormones help to regulate several important body processes including sexual function. The following hormonal issues could cause erectile dysfunction:
- Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Low testosterone levels (hypogonadism)